Finding the What Via the Why

Many years ago, I wrote the title story of my first collection, The Least You Need to Know. I remember when the narrative reached a point of resolution, and I sat there knowing something was still missing. I realized I didn’t know why my narrator was telling this particular story. That’s when I heard him…

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Making the Small into Something Large

One of my favorite short stories is “Killings” by Andre Dubus. The major event of the story, the revenge killing of a man who has murdered the main character’s son, is large, but within the narrative that moves to this climax, there are smaller, quieter moments that are equally significant. One such moment occurs in…

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Restarting the Writing Process after Time Away

Cathy and I are back home after a splendid week away on the shore of Lake Erie, and now, like some of you, perhaps, I’m faced with getting back to work on an unfinished manuscript that I left alone while I was gone. “You don’t get good by wishing to be,” the poet, Stephen Dunn,…

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Keep Doing the Good Work

Cathy and I going on a vacation. We’re going off the grid, we keep saying, but here I am writing this blog post so I can share it with you. Yesterday I said to her, “I’m not sure I know how to do this vacay-thing. I mean, what am I supposed to be doing?” “Relaxing,”…

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A Father’s Legacy

My father was born on June 14, 1913—Flag Day. Each year, when he was still alive, he’d drive down the main street of our small town and point to all the flags flying and say, “They’ve put the flags out for my birthday again.” He took great pleasure in saying this; it was just a…

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Using Relics in Narratives

Yesterday, my wife Cathy was sorting through her purse when she came upon her now-expired YMCA membership card. “I guess I don’t need this anymore,” she said. Indeed our membership cards are now relics of a before-time that no longer exists, that time when COVID had yet to arrive. During the pandemic, we bought our…

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The Scent of Peonies: Sensory Details and Memoir

Compared to a year ago, the world seems a bit more open. With COVID positivity rates dropping and mask mandates relaxing, a certain degree of normalcy is returning to our lives. I fear, though, that too many people think this signals the end of the pandemic, but, of course, it doesn’t. There’s still too much…

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Hidden Power: Where Are You in Your Narratives?

Our new battery-powered riding lawnmower had its maiden voyage yesterday, and Cathy, who took the wheel, reports that it did great. When you turn the key, you don’t hear anything, and you might be tempted to believe there’s a malfunction. When you put the mower in gear, though, and back up or go forward, it…

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A Memory of My Mother

In honor of all mothers on Mother’s Day, I offer this section from my new memoir, Gone the Hard Road.   On one of the last visits that I made to the nursing home when my mother still had language, she told a fantastic story about just getting back from Florida where she’d been at…

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